Does your Softball player have everything?
Softball players and sports families in general typically have all the things that make spending their lives at the ballfields enjoyable.
Plus, we are all broke, right? Its expensive to let your kids follow their dreams, and it doesnt come without expenses.
Today, we introduce you to softball gifts and finds across the internet that make great gifts for softball players, coaches, parents and fans.
Warm up that $400 Bat!
Yep. You dropped half a mortgage payment on bats, and the cold weather will KILL them! So here ya go...a bat warmer. Also, a good idea to put balls in it as well!
Look cute and Stay WARM!
It is definitely possible to stay warm and look cute. Sometimes you can get so wrapped up in blankets and tarps that you can barely move or see the game. Well enter cute hoodie!
Do you ever have enough SOCKS?
These are just a few ideas that any softball or sports family will LOVE! We would love to see your ideas of things that make this LIFE easier!
I’ve seen you looking fancy, in a dress and sparkly gown
You’re makeup done and lipstick on, with ringlets falling down.
I see you in the mornings as you get dressed for school
Trying hard to look your best, to make sure you ‘feel cool!’
I’ve sat with you in your room, your hair a jumbled mess
Mismatching socks and comfy pants, and you’re beautiful nonetheless
So many nights I have watched you sleep, contented with your dreams
I’ve stroked your face and kissed your cheek under gentle moonlit beams.
That picture of you on the mantel, sand & beach beneath your toes
Kissed by summer, suntanned legs, your beauty truly glows.
But in all the days I have seen you, dressed up or bumming around
It seems to me you glow the most when your cleats hit the ground.
Your socks pulled up past your knees with holes in the heel
That any other time in your life would make you squirm and squeal
I’m not sure if it’s the softball pants, the jersey or the glove
But everything about you suddenly seems to glow with LOVE!
It’s in these moments at the field, you’re carefree and having fun
That confidence, happiness and beauty – join perfectly as one.
So my dear, always remember this, with everything you do
It’s HAPPINESS not clothes nor hair, that make perfect BEAUTIFUL YOU!
If I could give you just one gift, for a lifetime to keep you warm
It would be that you always remember how you feel wearing the uniform!
Pretty, stunning and beautiful – strong and happy too
Are the gifts that softball has lovingly given to you.
Speaking of GIFTS! Check out our store for some super cute softball swag your softball family will love!
As normal, it’s Thursday evening and Karen and Beth and Emily have their daughters dropped off and are dragging their chairs out to sit and chat while practice is going on. At the fence, Stan and Ben are standing watching the new players and analyzing their swings. The new girl the coach recruited to pitch is warming up with another new player who is a softball catcher.
Karen is clearly upset. Her daughter has played for this coach for 3 years, has always been his starting pitcher and has, without consulting her, brought another girl onto the team. GASP!!! And, oh to make matters worse – this girl is a BEAST I tell ya, A BEAST! She deals! She’s had her name in the paper multiple times, and is slotted to do big things, with D1 colleges already looking at her.
Yeah, so Beth is pissed. And Stan, well he is pretty damn IRATE too, because his daughter is the starting catcher but the idiot coach was worried that she wouldn’t be able to handle the new kids movement. And making matters even worse, Emily’s daughter is now fighting for short stop with the other new girl the coach brought out for the year. Damn Coach, what was he thinking trying to field a full team with 11 girls!!!
What a load of crap, right? Where is the coach’s loyalty? He is such a jerk.
One pissed off parent is enough, but 2-3, at the same time, and you got trouble. And of course, in their sleep hindering, headache inducing, drawing conclusions to soon butt-hurt fit of jealousy – they have to have allies. So they slide in little innuendos when they talk to the other team parents, make faces, display body language when the new girls are playing that needs no words, mumble things to their daughter, and stew and stew and stew.
And from where I sit, you can already see all that brewing. Bubbling and rumbling and forming a stank cloud over the practice field.
When new kids moms arrive, they are snubbed a little, and decide to sit away from the piercing eyes. While the kids all seem to be getting along and having a good time, they are also looking over at their mamas and papas and can sense the stank cloud is coming from their asses.
Oh, yeah…kids know, they know their parents faces.
You can pretty much get it from here. It’s an age old story of parents who are so jealous because another kid is maybe, possibly a little more skilled than theirs – that they get their panties in a huge wad and play out their insecurities through backhanded and passive aggressive maneuvers that destroy teams, all while smiling and pretending that they are above such school kid jealousy – while the new parents have been nearly ostracized – all because they decided to commit to your team, a decision that families do not take lightly. I bet the coach even told them that he has a “great group of girls and parents who are so kind,” and now he looks like a liar. They may be wondering what else he lied about.
So seriously peeps, what the actual hell are you doing? Do you not have enough faith in your own kid to let them compete for what they want? Do you act this way because your terrified that your kid will crumble under the pressure? What if she learns something? What if she is pushed harder and improves more than lessons and practice alone could ever achieve? What if the new kids are just kids who love the same sport as your kid, the same position even…Shouldn’t you be happy that they joined your team?
Why are parents so damn insecure and fragile, creating scenarios in their mind that their sheer fear and anger actually bring to fruition??? These other kids, they are on the same team as you, and there is a pretty good chance that all of the kids will benefit from fresh talent on the team, making the entire team better.
This is how teams get ruined. This is what so many parents do, take up hating on other children, because they are insecure that their own kid won’t be able to cut the mustard. Get. OVER. YOURSELF!
Why not take a lets watch and see approach? Why not welcome anyone with the goal of making your team more successful?
What the heck is wrong with us? Look, we get it, its your kid and you want them to be happy. But chances are they are still going to play their position, and chances are they aren’t mad until they are under the pressure YOU put on them.
We are begging you, please stop this. Please stop this behavior. Your kid will be just fine. But what you cannot do is use your emotions to bully new team members, or team members who play the same position as your kid. You can’t go around blaming coaches for having enough players to make a team.
We see this above behavior happen every year, and we see it all the time, and we have seen it with parents who you never thought would react this way. We have also seen this destroy good teams, and hurt a lot of kids in the process. We get it…it can sting to think your kid is being replaced. But the fact of the matter is that there will always be someone better than you or your kid at something. Suck it up. Work hard, adjust, be a team player, be a good example, and don’t become this person, suffering from such self inflicted pain and anger that it makes you become a miserable bully.
I grew up on the Softball Field...My parents were always there too, cheering me on and raising their red solo cups to say CHEERS!
When I turned 15 and got my learners license, it was such an exciting day for my mom and dad. Oh, boy....that meant that I could now drive them home from MY tournaments and they wouldn't have to cut off the 'festivities' quite as early as before, or at all. Not gonna lie, it kinda sucked.
I was one of the lucky ones that had a softball team where everyone got along, everyone actually seemed to like each other. When we took trips the parents all hung out together late into the evening, as we kids swam in the pool. So basically MY SOFTBALL team turned into a party for the parents.
I am not naive. I realize that adults consume alcohol. I know that on any given Saturday, there is absolutely no one who knows for sure what other folks have in their Yetis. And, if they were to check, they would probably find lots of adult beverages. I get it, I have kids of my own now who plays sports, so I understand the 'every Saturday at some ballpark soaking up a full day of my weekend after a long week at work'. I get that.
Even so, it was always disappointing to watch my drunk dad and mom sipping cocktails on the sidelines. It always gave me anxiety, worried about what they might say when the alcohol made their tongues a little loose. It frustrated me that my very best friend in the world, wasn't allowed to go eat dinner with me during breaks because her parents knew mine were tipsy, and rightfully so - didn't want her in the car with them.
As the day would go on, I sometimes felt like I was the adult - and felt the need to monitor and check on them to make sure they didn't offend my coach or an umpire, or start trouble with another team by saying something sarcastic.
I also experienced quite a bit of stress as the party parents would exit the ballfield together during tournaments to tailgate in the parking lot together.
One evening, my dad and another were escorted out of the ballfield by the director because they were laughing and heckling umpires. My mom fell asleep in her chair one early afternoon after partaking in another parents jungle juice, and it was obvious she wasn't asleep because she was 'tired.'
Our beach trips and distance tournaments were not fun. For me. One time, after getting upset about the poolside partying, I was told affirmatively that "IT WAS THEIR VACATION, TOO!" And, I get that - even back then, but waking them up for the 7am game the next day was a nightmare. I began to feel around the age of 13, that MY weekends were actually THEIR weekends. While they had an amazing time hanging out with their beer buddies, I was experiencing a lot of stress, worrying about them.
Two weeks ago, I sat at my sons baseball tournament. We are new to the team, and I was just getting to know the other parents and players. Lo and behold, I had set up my outdoor camp for the day just to the right of the party parents. I wanted to say something, but instead just sat. I relived my days at the ballfield, listening to the slur of their words get rougher as the day went on. Listening to the volume of decency to be slowly turned up, until the pitchers parent from the other team, got to hear exactly what they thought of him. I saw their kids come for snacks and waters, the looks of their faces getting more frustrated as the day went on. Eventually, they just stopped coming. The giggles, and burps and tripping over tree roots, spilling red solo cups and pretending to hide the Rum as it is poured into the coke...it just gets to be too much.
Especially every Saturday.
Look, do what you want - grown ups consume alcohol. Grown ups should enjoy the festivities of the day at the ballpark, watching their kids play the games they love. Parents work hard to get the kids there and they should have fun. But at some point, I can assure you that your kid may quit because they are embarrassed of you. I did. And I loved the game more than anything in the world, but I had enough. Plus, you are an example when you are out there. Be a good one.
A softball coach has a language all his or her own. Sometimes, the softball coach will speak out loud, and other times they may just shove a towel over their mouth to catch all the obscenities and mute the volume of their words…
Today, we offer translations to common things you may hear your softball coach say….
- Wear tennis shoes to practice….When a softball coach says this, pretty much everyone knows what it means. It means that you are running, and it means that he is pissed off about something the team did or didnt do… If he says this right after a game, there is always hope that by the time the next practice rolls around he may have cooled off and reconsider the hostile marathon. One can always hope!
- Put it in your pocket. Whatever you do, do not swing your bat…If you are up to hit and he tells you to put it in your pocket, it means that the pitcher hasn’t thrown a strike in a while, is possibly rattled and you probably have 3 balls and he’s hoping you will get the walk. He may also say something like don’t help her out… At any rate…if you swing you may be told #1….
- First step back. Give her a step. Big stick… If the softball coach is hollering at you standing in the outfield, you better wake up, because it means that the girl up to hit might just be hitting to you and even if you havent had a ball all day, there will be no excuse to not be ready for this one should it grace your glove with its presence.
- Get on your horse…This means run. Fast. We have heard coaches say this to runners on the bases and defensive players in the field, and he/she is basically telling you to put it in high gear and MOVE like you are being chased by Big Foot.
- Read your defense… Our favorite softball coach says “take a look around” but basically they are trying to tell you to take a look around the field and see where everyone is playing. Is the third baseman playing way far back? Is the other team expecting you to hit the long ball? Can you get a bunt down? This means use your head, and find a way to get on base…
- Think!!!! Basically, you didnt. That time. So do it next time.
- Everyone has a JOB! This usually means someone isn’t doing their job, and you need to peek around and see which one of your teammates is lost in la-la land.
- It’s OK, we’ll get it next time! So you didnt get ‘it’ this time, and you didn’t play all that great, but I am ready to get out of here and get a beer or ten, so I am leaving you with this bit of positivity.
- It’s Quiet in this dugout. Stop pouting because you are sucking, and get up at the fence and cheer on your teammates even if you are losing 10-0… it will at least help me drown out my thoughts.
- Be there an hour early cleats on ready to go… This means plan on getting there an hour and a half early so all the hair braiding is done, your pants are buttoned and your shoes are on when its time to start warm ups…..
Tryout season…If you ever want to see how downright insane sports parents can be, come watch tryout season in fastpitch softball.
The end of summer every year, brought tryout season, and every summer I was entering the race to find the best of the best, the greenest grass, the most expensive showcase opportunity team my mama could find.
To put it in perspective, imagine having a job you love YET every year, you have to start all over, and go to umpteen million interviews that were set up for you…Downright shitty.
I have sat around the bleachers long enough to know that softball moms and dads, are constantly trying to one up eachother. “Well my daughter has such and such softball bat, and the coach of such and such team said she could start…blah blah blah…” Meanwhile, us girls just hung out together doing girl things and playing ball. But you learn to put up some fences early, and to not get too close to anyone, because things could change in a moment, and after one too many ‘breakups’ and lost friends – it is much easier to be just be cautious and somewhat detached.
In the beginning, I would beg and plead to stay with my friends, cry, and carry on. But as I got older, it was just easier to try not to get too close. Most of us felt that way, we loved each-other and enjoyed playing together – but we knew that at anytime any one of us could be shipped off.
The same was true for coaches.
When I turned 14, after a bunch of tryouts – which included hours of learning how to ass-kiss, and being ‘coached’ on how to look eager, and excited, and how to be verbal on the field etc. And look, if you sit in the car on the way to a tryout and tell your daughter what she needs to do to be noticed, to stand out – I get it…. but the truth is that those who out hustle and outwork – they do it naturally. If your kid is out there pretending to be something they are not because you coached them to do it, you are doing them a huge disservice. The veil will lift eventually, and good coaches…really good coaches…they can see which girls have brick dust permanently embedded under their fingernails.
I cant tell you how many times I wanted to tell my parents to STFU…I was trained, I knew what to do. And honestly, I enjoyed the game, I hustled because I wanted to win, I was always coachable and eager, and it would have been nice to just once…be trusted that my personality, skills, and true self would land me a position rather than some blown up, fake, schmoozing version…
At 13, I finally had found MY SOFTBALL TEAM…14U was gonna be good. Oh my GAWD, it was glorious. We were awesome. The coach was great, the assistant coaches were AMAZING, and fair, and pushed us. We got along. We all had that burning desire to win…It was so good, that anytime off we had we were hanging out. I was happy with a capital H.
I made it an entire year (a YEAR…365 days….31 tournaments) – without much drama from my mom. Sure she got pissed if we lost a game, or if I struck out, or if I had a bad day and I would have to hear about it. But nothing so cringeworthy that she threatened to “get me off that crappy team as soon as possible.” Today was my last tournament and I made it…
Finally, finally, thankfully – I would not have to endure tryout season. Or would I?
I turned the corner of the concession stand and saw my mama talking to an opposing coach from a team that had beaten us twice that day…and just the way her body moved, the look on her face, the way she was moving her hands – the glow around her head, her sanctimonious air….made my heart drop.
Georgia Softball is competitive enough. Georgia softball parents…are downright cut throat.
Rec leagues die out early, and just about everyone plays travel. Basically it was like if you didnt play travel ball, you were a loser. And OH MY GAWD, the travel circuit in Georgia softball is insane. You have your regular travel teams that just play and then entire tiers of showcase, elite, gold, A-ball, organizational leagues that for some reason have become literal status symbols. It’s really kind of weird the way the parents on the highest level teams walk around like cocky roosters with their chests stuck out, looking down – even scoffing at those that play on ‘regular’ teams. “Oh, you play on that‘ team.
Basically if you dont play for one of the big organizations, you are just a minnion, a loser…. My friends and I didnt feel that way, we just wanted to play ball but any girl with an iota of talent at a young age is heavily recruited. Coaches from some of the Elite teams in our Cobb County area even showed up at 8U allstar games.
And this arrogance gets embedded into the game at a young age. Trust me, the competition isnt just on the field during games, it is in the bleachers and my crazy mama dove right in. I guess she figured if she couldnt play anymore, she could at least play the game of games and mess with my life.
I showed talent pretty young – and my mama decided, very strongly, that softball was my thing. So guess what, softball was my thing. I never told her, but I always wanted to try ballet, and learn to play the guitar.
And true to Georgia Softball ethics, my mom could be found schmoozing and working herself into the endearment of coaches whose teams she coveted for me to be on.
My mama wasnt even above ‘paying’ literally for my advancement into what she considered greatness. It never mattered that I was happy playing with my friends, that I loved my coaches… during almost every tournmanent I was prostituted by mother to coaches of other teams. Maybe they were higher, maybe they were just the team to be on in that moment, whatever it was – she always wanted me on the best team.
For me, ya know?? She wanted what was best for me, is what she would tell me….I was too young to know the difference at first.
At 10 years old, I remember my mom coming in the dugout and removing my bat bag (and me in total tears) in the middle of a game because the coach didn’t have me in the lineup. By the next week I was on a new team. That lasted a hot minute because I wasnt the starting catcher, even though I was starting at 3rd base every game which I loved – it didnt matter. Mama thought I should catch. Not long after, my mom got in a literal screaming match with an umpire over balls and strikes…
Looking back, I have no idea how any team wanted me. But what I didnt know then, and I know now – is that my mama wasn’t opposed to digging into her wallet in order to get what SHE wanted for me…
All of it of course in the interest of what is best for me.
Maybe, all of this has something to do with that first percocet I took when I was 15…Or maybe it was more my weakness of character as my mama said, and my recklessness and my lack of GRATITUDE, that caused me to ruin everything she had “tirelessly” done for me by becoming a drug user so young. I still don’t really know….
Stay tuned for PART 3 tomorrow!
I am just a softball player from Georgia who has played Georgia softball since I was 9 years old. And this...is my story... But it could be any girls story....which is why I am sharing it.
I took my first percocet when I was 15 years old. My brother had been injured playing football and the doctor had given him pain meds during recovery. He slept so good, so so good...I was so jealous watching him just rest.
At the time, I didnt know why I took the pill. That one pill led to many others - but I will get to that in a little while.
Looking back, I can see that I was just looking for an escape. I wanted to sleep and not think. I wanted an opportunity to take a freaking break, a break from playing softball in Georgia. Dont get me wrong, I still loved softball, but I was tired.
So tired. Soul tired.
So I had hoped at the time that the percocet would somehow in someway give me just a short period of time where I could shut my brain off, give me a moment of not thinking, take away some of the pressure and overwhelming feeling of always trying to be ON.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to ALWAYS be ON?????????? I do.
When you come from a competitive family where sports are EVERYTHING, and your living room has an entire wall dedicated to athletic accomplishments, trust me...its easy to feel overwhelmed. Not with softball, but with everything else.
Hello. It’s me. I am the girl without a softball dad.
At first I didn’t really notice. It was 8U, and there were so many grown ups on the fields helping us that I never realized these other girls had a dad, while I only had a mom.
But then, as the years went by – it became obvious. All these dads showing up to practice, rallying around the fence cheering on their daughters. Grateful to have something to share with their daughters that wasn’t pink and didn’t involve Barbies. I started seeing the girls throwing to their dads before practice, and learning to pitch, while their dads sat on a bucket patiently catching them.
I saw the way the coaches interacted with the other dads, like it was some sort of club. Don’t get me wrong, I had the best softball mom in the world! But she was busy and she had to work, and she teamed up with my aunts to make sure that I always got to practice and games and tournaments. She always showed up, was always there – even tried to play catch with me in the yard without an athletic bone in her body. As I got older, my throws got stronger and a hard throw she lost in the sun hit her square in the cheek. After that, she was nervous around me throwing or hitting.
It can feel like a lonely place. But let me tell you something. A part of the story that you may not know yet. I didn’t have my own softball dad, but there is this super cool thing about the majority of softball dads in general. And if you are lucky enough to have awesome coaches, even if it stings that a dad of your own is not out there; you start to know what it feels like to have one.
Softball dads, even if they aren’t your dad are always happy to throw with you. They will pitch you balls. My softball coach always included me, even if he was taking his own daughter to the cages. He texted my mom and got me to come along. At games and tournaments, I heard the strong male voices cheering for me on the stands. There was always a softball dad willing to give me some advice, or to take me to the bownet to try and fix my dancing feet. They were kind. They were strong. They were always willing to share their paternal instincts with me, and I never had to ask.
In fact, on senior night at my High School field – it was my travel softball coach who walked on the other side of my mother and I. He even came to graduation.
When my first boyfriend broke up with me and left me heartbroken, it was softball dads in the dugout who offered me reassurance and the kind of advice only men can bring to the table.
Through softball, I was able to learn about what dads SHOULD look like, and what dads SHOULD do. I learned a lot about men in general, and was shown so much love by men who didn’t have to extend their kindness, but did. While it was easy for me to feel sorry for myself at times, especially when I saw my teammates with their dads – it was impossible for me to not feel blessed to have the influence of the softball dads and softball coaches in my life… These men were there for me.
I’ll be honest..At first they might have stepped in because they saw how awkard my mom was with a glove. But as the days, and years went by I learned a lot about fatherhood, and quality men, and father daughter relationships through the men on the field that never blinked an eye to be there for me.
This isn’t a slight to my mother. She is and was amazing. She made sure I never missed out on any opportunity and was always my biggest advocate. What she didn’t know, she would learn – and she made sure I had the best coaches and trainers to foster my love of the game. But if you are the girl without a softball dad, you know what I mean when I say it can be lonely without a man out there advocating for you. Making sure you aren’t overlooked.
As much as this is a ‘female sport’ it is still dominated by male influences. A Softball dad can stick up for his daughter to a male softball coach differently than a softball mom, who simply gets accused of being a ‘Karen!’ The girls with the most involved softball dads, especially in the early days…got a leg up.
But I am here to tell you, that even if your biological father is a no show, there are a bunch of wonderful, amazing, supportive softball dads that will look out for you, and treat you like your own. Learn from them. Use their influence and involvement to help you navigate the world of men. You may be shocked how helpful, protective and involved these dads will be.
Last year when I graduated high school, I had two of the most amazing softball dads, who happened to have been my coaches throughout the years, be there at my side…some of my biggest fans and setting the example for me about the kind of men, the kind of dads – with the qualities that I should look for throughout my life.
To the girl without a softball dad. Maybe your dad has done you a favor by not being there, making room for the quality men to show up, so you know what it SHOULD be like. You, sis – are not alone in your sad thoughts and longing for a dad of your own to toss the ball with. But remember to count your blessings and appreciate the love of the softball dads who graciously step in, without being asked, to show you the love, dedication and involvement you DESERVE. May you never settle for LESS.
We see you. We see you out there getting base hit after base hit. You have an outstanding batting average, are able to bunt or hit – know how to do your jobs to move runners around the bases. And WE SEE YOU! We see that you don’t always get the praise or the hoopla, or the entire team waiting for you at home plate as you drive in those RBI’s, and score consistently. We see you not being the third out, being old reliable, the steady Betty of your teams hitters. We see you making the game go round, making the score go up, and being there for your coaches and team. When you step up to the plate, your coach is relaxed, your teammates are ready to move – because YOU MY DEAR are as dependable as cleats smelling like cat pee at the end of a long day….
There is no hoopla. You arent getting the MVP, you dont have people standing around just waiting for you to hit bombs over the outfield fence while everyone stands and praises your bat and pats you on the helmet.
Home runs are super exciting. BOMBS! They always make the highlight reel. Everyone remembers the home runs. Oh, its a thing. And meanwhile, your base hit, your double, your occassional triple or sacrifice bunt gets recorded in game changer and off you go….
The thing is, maybe what you don’t realize, is that what you bring to the team by being consistently AWESOME, by doing all the little things that maybe don’t make “ESPN” that maybe aren’t bragged about by your hometown, or school, or coaches…your ability to be CLUTCH, your ability to be dependable, your knack for coming through at the right time, and for CONSISTENTLY adding to the scoreboard every game, almost every at bat, is HUGE! Sure, there isn’t all this fanfare. But coaches know, and people who get the game know that you are more needed than you know. Teams need players who can go 5 for 10 just as much (maybe even more) than they need players who will go 1/10 with homer.
Your type…you girls who get those base knocks and make things happen little by little, are a major part of the success that your team finds on the field.
This isn’t to take away from our awesome girls out there who hit them bombs. We want you to keep hitting them…they are exciting for sure….
This is for the rest of the kids. Keep your chins up. Don’t worry about the fact that you don’t hit home-runs. Don’t get frustrated that you don’t get the recognition, or make the highlight reel….just be dang proud of the hard work and dedication it takes to be you, and keep working and keep being steady Betty and know that we SEE you and we are cheering for you! Your team would be lost without you….
Part 19 Cooler weather. The dark period. Somehow, this year it seemed more dark than ever. Chillier. The leaves crunching under my feet seemed so loud. Summer had ended. I walked up to the front door of Coach Mike’s house just as the sun was setting. A perfect and inviting wreath hung on the door, and the yard was manicured, It was everything a girl like me imagined. A stray ball and glove were in the front yard, abandoned. As I approached the front door, I saw what was left of my original family sitting at the dinner table eating mini corn-dogs, macaroni and cheese. I thought of Mama. In the center of the table was a huge fresh bright pineapple. I smiled. There was laughter, and lots of chatting. Happy. There was happy. The kind of happy you get when you win a championship game. For an extra few moments I just stood there and listened. It was confirmation that I had done the right thing. It was a Godwink, telling me I was headed in the right direction…now I just had to tell my siblings.
Jenna and I had graduated high school. Summer ball was over. School had just started back, Jenna was off at college, and I was suddenly thrust into the part of becoming an adult that no one ever really prepares you for. They think they do. Teachers and coaches and parents. They all try. But the truth is that the future is not much different than being up to bat and waiting for the perfect pitch to hit. You can decide to hit the fast ball, but it may not be a strike. You can tell yourself to hold back on the change up, and then be as surprised as anyone when you hit a dinker that dribbles into the infield, with your coach throwing his hands up on the sidelines because you made the third out off the inning. It’s the whats next. The planning and plotting. And truth is, we never really know whats next or what’s gonna happen. You could hit a grand-slam, or fall down swinging out of your shoes – no matter how trained you are, no matter how much you have practiced, no matter how much thought you have given to the future..it often comes down to the luck of the pitch. And if you have read my story this far, you know that I stopped making plans long ago. That I am more of a pinch hitter.
Because, for years and years I had imagined that my future was decided, made up of welfare groceries, a part time job or two slinging burgers and trying to do the best for my siblings to give them better than what I had. Coach Mike had showed me what that better looked like. While my peers were planning for college, dating, partying, finding jobs and trying to find their place in life – I have just been trying to survive.
But there was Kennedy Boyd. The last year of high school I had many conversations with Kennedy Boyd. But it was not until Coach Mike and his wife took my siblings in after mama died, that I really wanted to listen to what Mr. Boyd had to say. And that is what I did today.
Mr. Boyd took in the un-coachable…the students without a team. Kennedy Boyd took a dim or bleak future, and changed it. He gave it possibility. After our 4 hour meeting today, Kennedy Boyd gave me a future and because of softball, and the people of softball, and the friends softball gave me, and the opportunities softball opened up…I was not just able…but happy, and proud to and excited for my future. For Millie’s future….
It had been 10 weeks since I left. Basic training was tough. I was not allowed to have any contact with my family, which was by far the hardest part. Had my brother and sisters been with Mama, I would have not made it. But I knew they were in good hands, and I knew that they were happy and being taken care of. I had been through darker seasons, there were many autumns from my past that were much harder. One of the things that had always got me through in life was a team, even if I felt like an outsider, having a team was something I could do. And thats what drew me in to the Army.
I had 3 days home before my Advanced Individual Training was to begin. My MOS was going to be army medical, a dream I always had, but never dared to dream…. I didn’t tell anyone I was coming, and when the cab dropped me off I saw that Coach Mike’s wife had a new wreath on her front door. It had a baseball and a softball and said “If we don’t answer we are at the ballfield!” I smiled. My hand drifted up to the doorbell, and then it dawned on me that I was family. The handle turned and I walked inside.
The living room TV was turned way up, and some holiday cartoon was playing. The house smelled like apples. I heard my sisters and my brother squabbling. Coach Mike had heard the door and stepped into the foyer. For what seemed like forever, he stared. Then his wife came around the corner. And she stared. “You always did wear a uniform well,” Coach Mike finally said, breaking the silence and they both rushed to hug me. My brother and sisters came running “MILLIE, you’re home, you’re home!”
Uniforms. You can take 13 girls who may not know each other, may have never met, or may not like each other and put them in the same uniform and suddenly they are a team. Suddenly, somehow…they are after the same thing. And suddenly, because of that uniform – they little by little start to see one another differently. They learn to trust. They learn to pick one another up. They learn to be there. Maybe they still don’t like each other, maybe they still have some personal issues, but it’s game time, and the only way to win when you are wearing the same uniform is to work together. The gifts that come with wearing that uniform develop over time, require hard work. That uniform becomes respected and suddenly bound together are 13 girls with the same vision. People who wear that uniform become family. They share their pineapple with you. They give you a place to stay, a hand up when you are down. They open up their homes, and most importantly their hearts. All because of a uniform.
If it were not for the comfort of uniforms I wore throughout my childhood, I would not have chosen to wear them as I entered adult-hood. And yet, I cannot imagine a future doing anything else.
The next time you see me, I will be wearing another uniform. That of a registered nurse. All of this, because of softball.
The last thing you want to do is look like a full at your World Series and show up with either NO trading pins, or pins that are just blah!
Today, check out this World Series Pins Buying Guide from All Star Trading Pins
The thing about broken people is that they don’t need OUR forgiveness. They need their own. There is a big misconception about all of that. My mama was not a bad person, not a bad mother. I know what you are thinking.
My mama was just a broken person.
When my dad left us – the mirror that was her heart, began chipping away piece by piece. It didn’t hurt me and my brother so much, as we were used to him being at the outfield fence of our lives. But it broke her. And then when my grandmother died her heart shattered into a million pieces leaving millions of tiny shards of glass everywhere around us that were impossible to piece back together.
The problem when mirrors break, is that no matter how much you try to vacuum up the slivers of glass, or sweep them away – even days, weeks, or months later – you will still cut your foot simply walking through the kitchen on a lone splinter you missed. And that’s what it was like with mama.
Just when I thought everything was going great, that things were getting better, I would step on a shard of glass and find myself bleeding.
My only bandaid was softball. Aside from my brother and my sisters, softball was what stopped the bleeding. Or at least, made me forget about it long enough for the blood to clot. I think that is why Mama let me do it.
It is not up to me, (or you reading this) to decide or judge my mama. She was just broken. When people break, you have to love all the pieces of them separately, as is, with their sharp corners and jagged edges. Because if you don’t you will end up staying angry for the rest of your life. And I couldn’t be angry. That was a decision I made very young.
Coach Mike knew my mom. He had grown up with her, went to Middle School and High School with her. He knew her when she was an RN in the NICU, vibrant and successful and beautiful. They grew up in the same neighborhood. Coach Mike knew my grandmother. Maybe that is why he kept an eye out for me, although if it were, he never said anything to make me uncomfortable. He never asked me what happened, or questioned whether things were okay at home. Maybe he knew the answers. But I liked to think that I was just so damn good at softball, that he loved having me on his team and that it had nothing to do with my mama, or her brokenness. But who really knows these things at 13…
The next couple weeks were a melody of practices with the new fall season starting up. My teammates were all giddy about high school tryouts coming up. Everyone was trying to up their game and was working hard. I was right there with them, stopping the bleeding. Our Rec League was no longer offering worthy opponents and the taste of Orlando’s competition had heightened the pallet of my teammates, the parents and Coach Mike….
“Millie, are you gonna tryout at school? Did you hear my dad is going to make us a REAL travel team, we are gonna get to go so many places – oh, I just cannot wait!!! Aren’t you so excited, GOD I can’t wait….Millie, it’s gonna be so fun!!!” Jenna was almost squealing… I looked over at my brother waiting for me to get done, collecting pebbles like they were seashells….
I just remember feeling like I had stepped on yet another lost sliver of glass, this one seasoned and sharp having traveled from the kitchen to my beloved softball field, that tore off the band-aid without mercy.
Follow along on social media for our series of “Millie” posts. A Softball Is For Girls original story you won’t want to miss.
(Missed parts 1-3) Catch up Below! Have an amazing softball story you want to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Part (1 of 20)
Millie’s Story – (Part 1/20) “The first time he didn’t show up, I was 8 years old and it was my first game of the season. Actually, it was my first game EVER. He told me he would be there. There was no way that he forgot because I reminded him of the game time at least 12 times per day. The park was less than a quarter mile from his house, so even if he didn’t have a ride – he could walk. I spent the entire game feeling hopeful, as each inning ticked away, I asked the coach how much longer the game would last, probably sounding like a child screeching “are we there yet” while on a roadtrip. If Coach was annoyed, he didnt let me see it. My first at bat, I surveyed the fence line and the bleachers to see if he was there, so much so that I struck out looking. Looking for him….
Up until the time the game ended, even a few minutes after the umpires left, I was hopeful that he would show up…As the girls from my team walked away with their families, I can remember thinking I should wait just a little longer, and certainly he would be there. Then, Coach Mike,oblivious that I was waiting for anyone told me it was time to go. He was my ride home and I knew I had to leave. I spent the remainder of the weekend wondering if he every showed up, making up visions in my head of him running up to the field only to realize he was late. Because late would be better than absent….
Make sure you are following Softball is For Girls to continue reading Millie’s story.
(Part 2 of 20)
Millie (Part 2 of 20) Blue Rasperry Powerade. We stopped at the store after the game, and Coach Mike bought me a blue raspberry Powerade. I will never forget him letting his daughter and I loose in the store and telling us to pick out whatever we wanted to drink. I knew Coach Mike’s daughter didn’t like me much, in fact I didn’t get along very well with most kids my age at that time in my life. As she picked out gum and candy and two drinks, I picked out a Blue Powerade. “Don’t you want anything else – get whatever you want,” he asked.
I did, I will admit, I REALLY DID, but I didn’t want to come across as needy or rude, and as his daughter eye balled me suspiciously, I tossed my drink on the counter. I guzzled 3/4ths of the bottle on the short ride to my house, and saved the last little bit for my little brother. It had been a long time since either of us had anything to drink but faucet water and I knew he would be excited. As I grew up, Blue Powerade became my wine. Any day that was a good day was celebrated with Blue Powerade, and those days were always softball days.
Coach Mike played music in the Jeep, and talked about the game and chatted about how proud of us he was. This was the first of hundreds of rides home I would get from Coach Mike over the span of 6 years I played for him. His daughter, leery of my presence still and just being nice because she was forced to, asked me what size shoe I wore, because my cleats looked huge compared to my height. I laughed wildly, and told her I wore a size 9, hoping she would never find out that I actually wore a size 3…but these were the only cleats I could find and it was much less obvious to wear them than to slip on tennis shoes.
The crazy part is that in all that time, he never knew (or if he did, he never showed it) where I really lived. Every time he picked me up or dropped me off for games or practice, I ran over to a house 4 doors down from mine. It was decorated for every holiday, the grass was always cut, two cars in the driveway, and there was a big WELCOME HOME sign on the door. I would often pretend I lived there, and I imagined that the inside was neat and cozy and smelled like Pot Roast cooking. Coach would let me out, I would run up the driveway to the back of the house waving furiously with a big smile and then wait until I heard him drive away to make my way home. Always with a little bit of Powerade left over for my brother.
Great news! Softball, in many parts of the country is BACK after the long lockdown from CoronaVirus. So many of us have heard horror stories, seen guidelines, and have been concerned about what playing softball AFTER CoronaVirus would look like? Today, we have a recap of a USFA tournament from yesterday that took place in Georgia. (Georgia has had several #softballunderground tournaments) and many teams have practiced and scrimmaged for over a month, but this weekend was the first ‘official opening”
((((Disclaimer))) For those of you NOT playing, know we are praying for you. And our Diamonds will shine again shirts are still just $5. See Below
We were provided a very lean list of guidelines up front (screenshot attached),
Including mostly common sense precautions. There were ‘recommendations’ of social distancing. Upon arriving at the park, there were no gate fees and it was instead built into the tournament fees. This was to avoid large lines of people congregating, and it was actually a blessing. Because we all know there is nothing worse than having all your stuff loaded up on you like a pack mule and then trying to locate exact change for a gate fee.
Rules were that defensive team would keep their own ball each inning.
Umpires were not supposed to touch the balls. So essentially each team was using their own ball defensively, but as soon as one or two or three were hit foul, that rule seemed to fall by the wayside without anyone noticing. We did not sanitize the ball. Plus, the kids are so accustomed to throwing the ball into the pitchers circle, that this guideline was aborted by game 2 or 3.
Umpires were in their regular positions. Thankfully. Just like the kids on the field, they were rusty, but seemingly joyous to be back out there. Be patient when you return to the field…the kids are definitely knocking off the DUST.
We were advised to follow simple common sense and keep sick people home *which we should do anyways* but no temps were checked at park entry. We did notice that there were not quite as many grandparent fans, but it was also unbelievably HOT and muggy.
Masks. At a park with around 25 teams, there was 1-2 persons wearing a mask. One was the tournament director who pulled it on whenever approached. Not sure who the other person was, or if they exist.
The pavilion area with picnic tables was off limits and was used for officials and employees. Not one player worse a mask (except for when fielding and trying to protect their face and teeth and it was metal not cloth. We did meet one or two coaches who maybe could have used one, but thats a story for a different post. SIDENOTE: The vast majority of GA is not wearing masks, and has not been wearing masks unless mandatory by their employer…
Plus, in all Honestly, it was 93 degrees with at least 80% humidity and it was difficult enough to stay hydrated and breathe without a piece of cloth obstructing air…. And there is nothing to suggest that masks on players would even be helpful, and would instead be detrimental and we are also pretty sure that the kids would probably touch them, store them in their cleats between games, drop them on the ground and wipe their sweat with them.
The girls were allowed to use the dugout as usual and teams were to provide sanitizing wipes to clean off bleachers. We were concerned about this because the DUGOUT is perhaps one of the most important and fun aspects of the game.
There were no trashcans in the dugout (also a really GOOD change because they are always over flowing anyways). And wowza, kids of all ages were super fantastic about cleaning up after themselves and stuffing their half drunken water bottles and wrappers and lids etc. into their batbags to be found in 5 months by an unsuspecting parent searching for a smell. Way to go Kids…Tournaments would do well to keep this protocol.
The hosting park staff did start coming into the dugouts between games and spraying what seemed like a misting of bleach and water from some sort of water gun… Only extra suggestion here would be to add some sort of fragrance or scent buster to help with the overwhelming smell of sweaty armpits and socks. Coaches and players were all safely in the dugouts like normal…again, under parental supervision and parents all seemed to have no problems with it. This was true of teams from 8U to HS.
While it was reccomended to bring chairs, and stay off bleachers (which many people do anyways) there was bleacher use. Parents set up chairs and dragged them to the fence and sat next to their favorite people… their team. One of our friends who runs tournaments told us today that they did try to stagger chairs and move them, but it was to no avail, and most people threw aside this ‘rule’ early on in the day. No social distancing during game switches because we all know the early bird gets the worm. (the worm being the best spot at the fence)
Team tent cities were dotted along every swatch of grass….
We didn’t see anyone lick each-other, or share blow-pops, but mostly everyone was so excited to be back at the field that blow-pops were virtually unnecessary. 🙂 Pretty sure there were a few kids biting off the same pickle, under parent supervision (or lack thereof)…. and hair laden with sweat was being braided by the most skilled braiding moms and players on each team.
Concession stands in our case, were open and so were bathrooms. People maintained a normal space while standing in lines, and nothing seemed awkward. Maybe the biggest change occured with regular spraying of the bathrooms with Lysol, and plenty of soap. ((Now that’s a WIN-Win) In fact, I think we all would agree that a little sanitizing of the bathrooms makes for a more enjoyable day, but it did make the lines a little longer.
Sunflower seeds, the germ filled illness causing spitting favorite of champions were outlawed, but there’s a good chance that they were still there, somewhere lurking and being spit like a wad of tobacco onto the dirt or into an empty bottle.
Brackets were online which eliminated the gathering of everyone trying to be the first one to know where their team placed. So with a simple app, we could keep up with scores, game times, changes, etc.
Last but not least, there were knuckles instead of high fives. Maybe a few helmet taps, a little less handshakes, but nothing noticeable. And regardless of what has happeend over the past few months – there were still HUGS. Those home runs hugs, those great play hugs, those winning hugs, that just seem to prove that people are truly meant to be together. There was also some church on the dirt – and maybe, just maybe a whole lot of behind the scenes healing going on for so many kids who have desperately missed their friends, their coaches, their team families and the GAME.